DESIGNING HOTEL LIGHTING....IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT PRETTY PRODUCTS11th September 2014
Designing good lighting for hotels is about more than creating stylish products that are on trend and look the part. It’s about top quality products that provide efficient lighting and enhance the guest experience, whether through multifunctional guestroom lighting or bold public area statement pieces.
Lighting really does make or break the traveller’s hotel experience, something which is illustrated by recent extensive research conducted by Osram suggesting that of 10,000 recent hotel reviews in London most guests complained about the dim, bad and sparse lighting in their rooms. Accordingly when we design either our standard lighting collection or bespoke pieces, we do so from multiple perspectives; either from that of the hotelier, the interior designer and above all else the guest.
The first thing to consider is the aesthetic of the product, does it look the part and fit in with the overall design concept? Interior designers are pushing the boundaries more than ever before, always looking to create unique interior schemes for hotels that offer something different and inevitably lighting is an essential part of that. It’s often asked whether table or floor lamps can make a difference in a guestroom or are they surplus to requirement. Well they most certainly can by adding ambient lighting and creating atmosphere in what has become an increasingly multifunctional space.
Following the latest industry trends and ultimately trying to pre-empt them is a critical part of the design process. Nobody wants to specify outdated products so we try to recognise emerging trends as early as possible and use them to inspire our collection. Take the Bullet range for example, we identified that retro styling and industrial cues were becoming big news on the interior design scene, so we designed the range based on retro styling from the 1960’s with an assortment of finish options to appeal to our international client base. To mix the wish of the guest who wants enough light and the wish of the hotelier who wants low energy costs, it had to be LED with an integral 6watt LED chipboard located behind a frosted diffuser in order to give soft light with no glare. Contract functionality means solid steel and brass construction, locking swivel joints with toothed locking key for secure arm position. The multi-swivelling head enables guests to control the position of the light whilst the weighted base houses the LED driver and ventilation holes in the head ensure that barely any warmth is emitted from the light source.
2. Let there be (enough) light
As highlighted by the Osram research, lighting is more than just about creating the ‘wow factor’ and needs to rank higher up the designer’s list of priorities. One of the biggest complaints to concierges is that guestrooms are insufficiently lit to work, put make up on or to simply see so it’s our job as lighting specialists to work with the designers and hoteliers to light guestrooms and public areas successfully. We have helped several hotel chains to create their brand standard light levels following guestroom lux level surveys carried out by our technicians. A hotel room is no longer just a room to sleep in, it has become multifunctional, a place to eat, sleep, work and relax and the lighting scheme needs to reflect the variety of uses and generate the correct light levels to meet all those functions. Our new Crane desk lamp for example puts the light exactly where it is needed- on to the hotel guests work station.
3. Quality and functionality
As hoteliers expect stylish design and quality whilst working to a tighter budget, it should be a given that both are essential for contract use. Products need to be designed to withstand frequent and often forceful handling because those of domestic quality aren’t going to last 2 minutes in the hotel environment. We need to provide clients with products that reflect the highest standards of engineering and finish at the right blend of price and quality. Guests want hotels to feel like a luxurious home away from home and they want their hotel lighting in particular to reflect this, to be stylish yet functional. For example, most guests have dimming functionality at home and expect it in hotels, but they want it to be clearly visible on the product and most of all usable. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard stories of the concierge being called up to the room to explain how to dim the lights, illustrating there needs to be a distinct balance between design and functionality. Our latest colour coordinated push and toggle switches provide the guest with clear switching options. The latest Dock range of bedside reading lights give the option of a push switch or a neat ‘docking switch’ when the LED directional head is recessed away.
Blending cutting edge style with the latest technological developments is becoming more important than ever but we constantly need toask ourselves whether we can make the lighting experience better for the hotelier by saving money on running and maintenance costs. LEDs are now an essential light source in many hospitality spaces as sustainability moves to the forefront of the minds of developers and designers. Whilst they don’t answer every possible lighting requirement, the option of LEDs has offered increased design possibilities when integrating this technology into our fittings for future energy saving. Whilst I still believe sustainability is at the top of most people’s list versus design and price, it is important to recognise the need to go green as the wave of the future. It’s imperative that lighting companies are moving with the times and demonstrating commitment to taking sustainability seriously. That is why we have made nearly every product in our latest collection available with an LED light source.
Creating bespoke product for clients is becoming increasingly more common and is a large part of what we do so it’s important that we have the necessary budget guidance. We can make a desk lamp from £29 to upwards of £299 and both will illuminate the desk and be of contract quality but it’s the combination of design, detail and light source that ultimately define the price level. For us budget level doesn’t mean chopping quality, it means being flexible and clever in manufacturing to give the same general look whilst hitting lower priced targets. The Travelodge refurbishment programme that we are involved in currently is a perfect example of this. We worked closely with the interior design team to value engineer the standard version of our Discus desk lamp to ensure it met the exacting design requirements and budget limitations involved without compromising the overall design aesthetic. The shallow curved weighted base and integrated rocker switch of the standard Discus fitting have been replaced with a flat circular alternative featuring an inline switch located on the cable. The base shape is mirrored in the stamped flat cylindrical head which contains a fluorescent GX 53 lamp providing excellent light level sustainability and efficiency.